Serial killer Stephen Port tried to cover his murderous tracks by telling a concerned neighbour his second victim died in mysterious circumstances abroad, an inquest heard.
Ryan Edwards said Port also urged him not to speak to others about the death of 22-year-old Gabriel Kovari, and described how he had concerns about Port’s fascination with young men and children’s toys.
Mr Edwards first met Mr Kovari after Port – who was said to have “a revolving door of boys coming and going” – invited him round to meet his “new Slovakian twink flat mate” (Mr Kovari) on August 24 2014.
The following day, Mr Kovari said to Mr Edwards that Port “is not the person you think he is, he’s not a nice man”, prompting Mr Edwards to offer him shelter at his home nearby.
But Mr Kovari did not reply to Mr Edwards’s follow-up messages. He was found dead on August 28 in a secluded corner of St Margaret’s Churchyard, near Port’s flat in Barking, east London, unbeknownst to Mr Edwards.
Two days earlier, Mr Edwards was contacted by Port saying Mr Kovari had moved out.
Watch: How serial killer tricked police
Port followed this by asking Mr Edwards if he had seen Mr Kovari around, floating the idea that he moved to Spain, before texting him on September 11 to say the young man had in fact died on a flight abroad.
In one text, shown to inquest jurors on Thursday, Port wrote: “Hey neighbour, have just heard sum (sic) sad news from one of Gabriel’s friends that Gab did return to Spain to be with his bf (boyfriend) and he died on arrival from an infection.
“His (sic) being buried in slovkya (sic). Please don’t put on FB (Facebook) or mention to anyone else as his family are in bits.”
Mr Edwards, 42, said he found Port’s story to be suspicious, but did not have any reason to disbelieve him.
In fact, Mr Edwards was unaware that Mr Kovari had died on August 28 in Barking until over a year later because he was away that month.
He also told inquest jurors that Port had a “voracious appetite” for meeting “very young” men, and had a “strange” obsession with children’s toys.
He said killer Port spent time with “vulnerable” boys to such an extent that he considered the softly-spoken chef might have “paedophile tendencies”.
Mr Edwards said he also had concerns about Port’s drug use, but was reassured by the predator that his interest in young males was legal, and that the drugs were for personal use only.
Port, now 46, was jailed for life in 2016 after being convicted of murder by plying four young, gay men with fatal doses of the drug GHB, as well as a number of rapes.
Mr Edwards said he would have reported concerns about Port’s young companions and about drug use if there was any evidence of criminal activity, as he had done with a previous friend.
Anthony Walgate, 23, Mr Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, 21, and Jack Taylor, 25, were all found dead near Port’s flat during a 16-month period between June 2014 and September 2015.
Inquests into the four deaths, which are being held yards from where Port lived and dumped his victims’ bodies, are examining whether police actions could have stopped the 6ft 5in serial killer earlier.
The inquests continue.
Watch: Stephen Port is 'sick, twisted scumbag', says murder victim's family